Why we never air freight

Step into the aisles of a British supermarket, and it could be any season.

We’ve become accustomed to a year-round supply of all our favourites, from strawberries to asparagus – but out-of-season imports often come at a staggering environmental cost.

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Riverford choose to savour the flavours of every season. What little we can’t grow at home is transported by sea or road – we never use air freight.

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Celebrating the seasons

We do our best to inform and enthuse about what’s in season, providing the widest range our climate will allow. Eating seasonally isn’t a chore – it’s a pleasure! Parsnips taste sweetest in winter, asparagus in spring, sweetcorn in summer and squash in autumn.

On average, 80% of the veg Riverford sells is UK-grown.

Weird & wonderful

There’s always some little-eaten British veg enjoying a renaissance in our fields. In spring and summer, try alien-looking kohlrabi, or dinosaurish cardoon stalks. As the weather turns, it’s sweet, nutty Jerusalem artichokes, and bitter leaves like red radicchio and dandelions.

Veg that grow together, go together

Veg-patch neighbours pair well on the plate – and satisfy the cravings of the season. In summer, you want refreshing salads and cool, creamy desserts – cue lettuces, tomatoes, and berries galore. In the winter, roots and kales arrive for hearty cold-weather cooking.

For committed seasonal eaters, we offer our 100% UK veg box.

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Intelligent compromise

Bananas, citrus, a 12-month supply of tomatoes, peppers and apples… these things can’t be grown naturally in the UK, but have come to be viewed as essentials. Given this reality, we undertook a two-year study with Exeter University to allow us to make informed compromises.

We had two choices: growing out-of-season produce in this country using artificial heat, or importation. Our research concluded that importation by road or ship is by far the greener choice.

Local isn’t always best!

Take the example of tomatoes. The huge amounts of heat in glass hothouses is produced by burning gas or oil. For every kilo of tomatoes grown in a hothouse in the UK, 2-3 kilos of CO2 are released into the atmosphere.

When we can’t grow tomatoes at home without heat, we truck naturally sun-ripened tomatoes over from our friend Paco in Spain.

This uses 90% less carbon than growing tomatoes in the UK using artificial heat.

It’s not perfect, but it is the least damaging option.

A farm in France

As well as Riverford’s four UK farms, we have Le Boutinard in the French Vendée. The light and rainfall there produce a colourful bounty of spring crops, ready just few vital weeks ahead of the UK season. By road, Le Boutinard is the same distance from our Devon farm as the Fens!

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Choose food that hasn’t flown. Choose Riverford.

Riverford veg boxes are bursting with the best of our fields as the year turns – and we never use air freight.

Choose from a wide selection of seasonal boxes – and top up with organic dairy, drinks, store cupboard staples and more. Delivery is free; no need to be home.

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© 2019 Riverford Organic Farmers Ltd